I have had people give me a whole gamut of thoughts on what knitting is. A giant waste of time seeing how I can go to Wal-Mart and buy a bag of socks or a sweater. A way to relax at the end of a day. An incredibly fiddly and old fashioned hobby, or a way to give my loved ones a tangible expression of my feelings for them. In truth, it's absolutely all of these things at different times.
Just the other night as I ripped out the third attempt at a sock heel that other knitters rave about, It was a giant waste of my time. All those hours of knitting gone in just a few minutes. Last night as I sat and chatted with friends over a wonderful dinner and excellent desert (I made strawberry pie and chocolate creme pie and I will admit they were dang good), finishing up the evening knitting with them was a wonderful way to lighten my load even as I worked on those socks I had torn out and begun another way. And that big orange shawl? Yes, very fiddly and minute at times but my mom will think of me every time she sees it and perhaps she'll think of a big hug from me her favorite son when she wears it.
So yes, knitting is all of those things. Depending on the day, the hour, my current mood, the yarn and needles I'm working with and the project I have in mind, knitting can be any one of those things and often more than one at a time. Is knitting like this for everyone? I have no idea. I can tell you how it is for me. I can state what I like and dislike, but I cannot assume what knitting is to others or know someone else's mind before they tell me. This is why the world of knitting is as varied as it it.
On that other internet forum, another knitter had asked for some assistance picking out a book regarding beginning lace knitters patterns. There were many helpful suggestions, but there was one comment that just irked me, and got me mulling over things. This person insisted that the other knitter just hop to it with lace knitting because it's so simple and they themselves have had so much experience over years and years of knitting so their opinion was the gospel truth when it came to lace knitting. And the first thing I thought was, "Who the F is this person to insist that they know best what type of knitting will suit this other person?" Which then led me back to my feelings towards that pair of socks I fought with until they were torn back entirely and some of the unkind things I said regarding the pattern, the person who wrote it and the people who seem to find it a breeze.
Which led me back to, "Who the F am I to insist that this pattern sucks for everyone just because it won't fit my foot?" Now, we all have things that work for us and things that don't. I can happily say, most knitting I get. I can figure out what a knitter did to make their knitting do something, and I can mimic their work. I can make my own basic designs and my stuff looks pretty nice. There are worst knitters than me, but there are surely many better knitters than me. Faster, neater, more confident knitters, who probably have no issue with that sock pattern. Is it that I suck at knitting? No, it's because I either lack the certain skill that it needs at that moment, or it doesn't work with the foot I was trying to make fit. Or simply, it isn't to my taste. In the knitting world, taste is EVERYTHING. Look at that shawl I made that someone wanted to buy this last year. I don't like it, nor ever will. That designers stuff doesn't speak to me, but he has a huge following so it's speaking to someone. A lot of sometone's and he's making dang good money on it so I should just stop griping about it and come to some truths regarding me and knitting.
- I'm picky. I'm picky about projects, yarns, colors, shapes. Anything you can name I can be picky about.
- I'm detail oriented. I can get stupid about little issues on a pattern, in a yarn, in life in general. I'm a details guy and I like to have them a bit hammered down before jumping in or I get waspish.
- I love texture work. Cables, lace, complicated stitch work, I dig it.
- Well written charts make me smile. Give me a good, clear, and concise chart any day over written out knits, purls, yarn overs, decreases... I'm dyslexic, what can I say?
- Color-work, not so much. My detail oriented mind doesn't deal with the jumble of colors and the tension oddities drive me up a wall. It's all in my head. I have done color-work quite successfully but just don't enjoy doing it.
- With all that fiddly stuff above mentioned, oddly I think of patterns as general guidelines. I am picky about my end result, but the actual doing it has a lot of wiggle room.
- I'm a meat and potatoes knitter. I like the diving in and stitching part of it all. Sure I enjoy the conceptual part of playing with a thought in my head, or just playing with a new pattern I found and yarn ideas. And I love finishing up a large item, getting it off the needles and tidy it all up for showing it off; but it's the actual hands on knitting that I love.
Recognizing these truths about my knitting, is quite freeing. It lets me move on (I promise Cindy and Dana I will quit harping on the heel and that shawl designer), and knit what I want to. Playing with projects that speak to me, designing others that are galavanting in the back of my head as just basic outlines, and staying true to what knitting is to me. On that note, I will embrace these little facts about my knitting and never ever do another mystery knit along. They just aren't for me. I have no details to base my color decisions upon, and I have no idea what the next step is so if I fiddle with this part I have right now, does it screw with the finished result?
With all this said, I hope to never pass on my opinion as fact, or assume that I know what will work for another knitter. I like what I like, you may not like what I like, and I may very well not like what you like. However, I can and will admire well done work, whether the total work appeals to me or not. I feel like recently I too have not been holding true to this and perhaps lost sight of those truths about knitting and me. It's good to be slapped back into the right mind set occasionally before you start pissing off the people around you assuming you know what they like and irritating yourself in the privacy of your own head.
So, if you are thinking about taking up lace in your knitting, have at it. Play with it, laugh with it, cuss at it, and perhaps rip it all out. But just go ahead and see if the two of you get along. In fact, do that with everything, and I hope you get some excellent results, or at least a few truths about you and your knitting (or whatever addiction you have).